T-Mobile seeks to continue borrowing unused 600MHz spectrum from the FCC
T-Mobile uses 600MHz spectrum for its extended range 5G service
This additional 600MHz spectrum that T-Mobile has permission to use covers the carrier’s customers in Los Angeles; San Diego; Tucson, Arizona; and Bellingham, Washington. 600MHz is also important for T-Mobile along the U.S.-Mexico border. That’s because the 700MHz airwaves in that area are hit with interference from Mexico’s use of that frequency.
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“This relief can be provided by simply permitting otherwise unused spectrum – for which there are no current plans for licensing – to continue to serve the public,” stated T-Mobile. Besides employing unused 600MHz spectrum after being given permission to do so by the FCC, T-Mobile also was loaned 600MHz airwaves that Dish was not using. A few months later, Dish and T-Mobile were arguing over the earlier than expected shutdown of Sprint’s 3G CDMA network and Dish decided not to allow T-Mobile to lease its unused 600MHz spectrum as earlier promised.
The 600MHz low-band spectrum makes up T-Mobile’s 5G Extended Range service which delivers download data speeds twice as fast as Extended Range LTE. The 5G Ultra Capacity service uses the 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum that T-Mobile picked up with its $26 billion acquisition of Sprint.
The characteristics of low-band spectrum include the ability to travel longer distances than mid-band and high-band signals, and the ability to penetrate structures better. But there is a caveat and it is an important one. The download data speeds coming from low-band airwaves are slower than those coming from mid-band and high-band signals.